Thursday, May 17, 2018

The beginnings of crime prevention in Canada – Professor Irvin Waller

by Tarah Hodgkinson

The story of crime prevention and victim’s rights advocacy in Canada can be traced back as early as the 1800s, but many authors claim that the beginning of the crime prevention era in Canada began in the mid-1960s. A large part of that story begins with our friend and past SafeGrowth blogger, Professor Irvin Waller.

This week Irvin reached out to let me know he was retiring. He probably could have retired years ago, but he remained dedicated to making places safer and defending the rights of victims of crime.

And good thing he did. If Irvin retired when he should have I may never have gotten involved in crime prevention and, in turn, SafeGrowth. Irvin was the first criminologist I met who showed me that I could take everything I had learned about crime and cities and people and translate that into making real change. I write this blog in celebration of his amazing career and consistent support of other changemakers.


Irvin Waller is not what many would call a traditional academic. He didn’t spend his career focused on writing papers or attending conferences. Instead, he moved around, working in government and founding international organizations like the International Center for the Prevention of Crime.

He also spearheaded the magna carta for victims of crime at the UN, which resulted in the declaration on basic principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. He went on to develop the Safer Cities Program with UN Habitat and worked directly with the World Health Organization on guidelines to reduce violence.

Irvin Waller - photo CMNCP

He was involved in creating the Institute for the Prevention of Crime at University of Ottawa and has advised on crime prevention policy in Canada and internationally throughout his career. Irvin also has continued to write several books on crime prevention and rights for victims of crime.

Irvin's most recent book, Smarter Crime Control: A Guide to a Safer Future for Citizens, Communities and Politicians, speaks directly to community leaders and politicians about how to reduce crime and make communities safer. And guess what, SafeGrowth is in there too!

Interestingly, Irvin has consistently demanded that federal governments need to invest in upstream solutions and prevention at the same time that SafeGrowth continued to demonstrate the need for neighbourhood governance and local solutions. However, in his 2006 book, Less Law, More Order he expanded his vision and emphasized the role of local changemakers.

Since then, Irvin created the Canadian Municipal Network of Crime Prevention, further anchoring his station as a leader in Canadian crime prevention and an ally of the SafeGrowth philosophy.

Congratulations Irvin on an amazing career and on inspiring the next generation.

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